Cell discovery opens new door to heart researchers

Scientists at Harvard have found a master human heart cell that provides the basic building blocks for three types of heart tissue. And the discovery can swiftly open a new avenue for more efficient drug discovery work in the cardiovascular arena as well as open a new avenue for researchers exploring ways to repair damaged hearts.

"Since these [cells] are entirely human, you can use this system now to study the role of specific genes in human heart disease, and as ways to screen drugs for cardiotoxicity and for therapeutic effect,'' Dr. Kenneth R. Chien, director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, tells the Boston Globe.

Chien notes that past research on stem cell therapies for heart damage have fallen short of expectations. But because these progenitor cells are specifically used by the body to develop specific types of heart tissue, they stand a much better chance of doing the repair work that is required.

- read the article in the Boston Globe